Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Quacks like a duck

A recent internet article took we readers to task for relying on faux news sites. Problem is, some of these sites are so expert, so convincing, that it is difficult to discern the real from the fake.

Sites such as Occupy Democrats, Addicting Info, USUncut, Newslo, Blue Nation Review, and then the same type from the far right. 

They all have an agenda; they all have an audience, and they all want you to share their point of view. And they want you.

I have become concerned that too many of us are relying on false news sites in favor of the more traditional newsrags. I have been addressing this exact same article on my Facebook page over the course of the past few days. 

I used to frequent a number of the sites I listed above. I have backed off on trusting them big time. Why? Because after realizing I was being expertly duped and no one likes feeling that way, I decided to give these sites less credence.

As a former Navy journalist for 21 years, I should have known better. 

I have always prided myself for permitting differing point of views on my Facebook page and encourage intelligent discourse. Offer your side, but do so with tact and intelligence.

In recent times, I have gotten burned a number of times using articles from "news sites" that turned out to be false. One has to wonder if too many of us fell prey to this and became complacent in regards to the recent presidential election.

Bad on me for not verifying their stories, but ya know, if it is on the internet, you know, it must be true. I am fond of using the adage "if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it must be a duck."

On the internet, this adage can be further from the truth. What looks like the news, can all too often not be factual, but it is way too easy to write something, use quotes and give the appearance of "just the facts, ma'am."

These days, if you insist on using such sites, you can either: take your chances that every word they say is true, or use their sites selectively but verify the stories first. Sadly, this is becoming increasingly difficult.

We all look for news sites out there that share our point of view. And some of the sites on the list in the article are right down my alley, and I know for certain there are plenty out there for those of an opposing frame of mind.

My advice these days? Do your research. Sure, it's not as fast, in this day and age, it's so easy to "share" with the click of a button. I know, who wants to take the time? Who wants to spend the extra effort? Unless you want to wipe egg off your face, the answer should be "you do."

If extra effort takes time, so what? Slow down. If a news story is really the news, it will still be there after you've looked for some alternate reputable sources to verify. The old phrase "go ahead. I'll wait" nicely applies here.

I wholeheartedly endorse using the old tried and true news sources, ones that didn't appear overnight with the advent of internet news. I'm talking Newsweek, Time Magazine, the BBC, Aljazeera, the Guardian, the New York Times, NPR, PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and even USA Today.

What about that damned liberal media? Hate to say it but for the most part, aside from MSNBC and Fox News, there really is no such thing.

News organizations are in the business of making money. Let's face it, Americans are not all that liberal (sadly). If all news organizations were a part of that liberal left wing agenda, and they presented all of their articles with that slant, they'd lose money after alienating the masses, their customers.

Sure, some of the news sites publish articles with a leftist slant, but for every left-ish article, I'd bet my meager salary that there are 8 more that have a conservative... or even *shudder* a middle of the road approach.

One of my brothers recently told me I should get my nose out of relying on CNN. I had to laugh as I do not have cable. I've been disgusted with CNN for quite some time. I find them nearly as objectionable as Fox News.

Are they slanted? I suppose so (most definitely MSNBC and Fox). Every site has an agenda, but the old-school news organizations didn't get where they are without some foundation in pursuing the truth (which seems to be increasingly harder to discern). 

Remember, these faux news sites' mission is to inflame the reader. Coerce. Influence. 

Another of my brothers is fond of saying, "look at the facts." Funny thing is, some facts are not facts; my facts are not your facts; etc. Any fact can be twisted to the way you want. 

All facts are just laying around waiting for a good spin doctor. Tell me you have not seen an event covered by both the Democrats and the Republicans. You can bet your life the stories they tell will not remotely resemble one another.

And if you want to go it alone and present your own opinion, I'd suggest you read. Read a lot... and then read some more... and not just everything that agrees with your point of view. If you want to come across intelligently, read things that challenge your point of view.

I work in a rather well known bookstore chain. Whenever I see someone buying an anti-full-in-the-blank book, I want to tell them I will not sell them that book unless they agree to buy one that posits the opposite (of course, that would get me fired). The funny thing is, if I were to follow my own advice, I guess that would mean I need to read some books from Bill O'Reilly or Glenn Beck, a proposition that even I find hard to stomach.

So my advice? Use the old school journalists. Verify, verify, verify. Don't assume. The old brick and mortar news sites have a duty to present the news responsibly. Let's face it, we know where they live. Can you say that about internet news?

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